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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club
|Volume 16, Number 6||
|June Membership Meeting|
|Wed., June 4th, 2003||Central Lutheran Church||
7 PM open, 7:30 PM Meeting
Our coin club's raffle prize, an 1892 US Liberty $10 Gold coin certified ACG MS60 was won by long time member Michael Orr, now living in Dutch Harbor. Congratulation go out to Mike Orr on winning this prize. Also....thanks go to Carl, of Carls, for donating the coin for the raffle.
We had a very good meeting with the YNs starting earlier in the day with a session on "Foreign Currency".
Now that we have consolidated our YN and membership meetings on the same day, it's given our members and YNs (Young Numismatists) an opportunity to see two presentations for that evening.
The evening's presentation was given by Bill Hamilton on "The Roosevelt Dime". Bill gave a very good presentation on the history of that dime and the fact that full band Roosevelt dimes are the "latest trend" for the collector. Considering full band Mercury dimes command a premium price, why not Roosevelt dimes. For the YN, it's something that is very collectable. More on that subject in next month's newsletter when an article will come out on that subject.
The door prize, an uncirculated 1993 US Silver Eagle coin, was won by John Larsen.
The membership prize, a 1969 US Proof Set, was won by Marilyn Stubblefield.
For those of you who have visited the Loussac Library and the First National Bank of Alaska on 4th Avenue, the coin displays set up by Loren Lucason and Bill Hamilton were a great success. First National Bank of Alaska has asked Bill if we can do more of these type of displays. Meantime, the Loussac Library display, "Coin Tales", will be on display for another month (May). The display is on the second floor of the library. Your editors recommend you see that display...
Our next club meeting for the overall membership will be on Wednesday, June 4th at the Central Lutheran Church/ downstairs meeting area. The June 4th meeting will be our coin club's YN Numismatic Donation Auction. At this time, some 40 auction lots have been generously donated. The auction list is in this month's newsletter. There are some very nice auction items.
Donations for this auction are still coming in. So...we will likely have more items in addition to the 40 lots. Any lots that cannot be auctioned by the end of the evening will be carried over to our coin club's next meeting .... The Anchorage Coin Club's Summer Picnic...scheduled for Sunday afternoon, July 27th Centennial Park in Anchorage.
The Anchorage Coin Club traditionally holds it's July membership meeting in concert with our Summer Picnic. Our club provides the burgers, hotdogs, sodas, chips and dips. Members are asked to bring a salad, hors d'oeuvre, or dessert. Lots of coins will be given away at that event, there will be a coin auction, lots of games, and our club's raffle prize coin (a 1934-S Peace Dollar in VF condition). It's a fun event for our YNs, their parents, and the rest of our membership.
There will be no YN meetings for the months of June, July and August. However, we will continue to have regular membership meetings and Board meetings through the summer. So...YNs can still come to a coin club meeting and your editors encourage this.
Enjoy your summer......Your Editors.
Schedule of Events for the Month of June:
Monthly Membership Meeting: June 4th (Wednesday) evening. Members and YNs can come at 7 PM. The membership meeting will commence at 7:30 PM. The event of the evening will be the Anchorage Coin Club's "YN Numismatic Donation Auction" (see auction lots listed in this month's newsletter). Proceeds from this auction goes to the YN Program of our coin club. Please support your YN Program by attending this event.
Anchorage Coin Club Board Meeting: June 18th (Wednesday) at 7:00 PM at the Golden Pond Restaurant near 36"1 Avenue and C Street. Club members welcomed.
Minutes of the May 21st Board Meeting
The meeting was called to order at 7:15 PM by President Stanley Mead at the New Cauldron Restaurant at the University Center.
Following a review of bills and correspondence, a status was given by Larry Nakata on the YN Numismatic Donation Auction. Donation auction lots are still coming in. Larry stated that auction items may still arrive in the mail after our June 4th auction. Any auction items received will be auctioned off at our club's July summer picnic.
Bill Hamilton has arranged for the use of Centennial Park on the afternoon of July 27th (Sunday). The club will have use of the pavilion at Centennial Park from 12 noon to 6 PM. Announcement of the picnic will be made in the next newsletter.
The Board members then reviewed the submittals for the best design of the Anchorage Coin Club's 15th Year medallion set. Of 17 designs submitted, the winning design was by member Peggy Compton.... whose theme was the Alaska Willow Ptarmigan. Besides recognition for the winning design, Peggy will receive a free medallion set with her membership number on the edge of the coins.
The Board then went over presentations for the summer meetings. No presentation will be given on June 4th since the evening's event is the YN Numismatic Donation Auction. The month of July will see our club's Summer picnic at Centennial Park. The August 6th membership meeting will see a presentation by Stanley Mead on "US Peace Dollars".
John Larson gave a report on Anchorage Coin Club calendars to commemorate our club's 15th Year. John has talked with a local Alaskan company that specializes in making of these type calendars. Cost is $150 to setup the calendar with the cost of calendars at $10/each. Minimum order is for 100 calendars. Before proceeding with this project, it was decided that John will give a report at our next club meeting on June 4th. It is necessary to know how many members are interested in calendars in order to make the minimum order of 100 calendars. If there is sufficient interest, we will proceed with the project.
Before adjourning the meeting, the Board discussed the passage of long time club member, Ben Guild. Ben passed away earlier in the month of May. Ben was one of our club's best supporters. Ben owned a coin shop in Eagle River until he retired from that venture several years ago. Ben was responsible for our club's banner which you see at our meetings and at our club events. He will be missed......
The meeting adjourned at 8:15 PM.
There will be no YN meetings during the months of June, July and August. We want our YNs to enjoy their summertime. YNs can still attend our coin club's regular membership meeting and the coin club's picnic scheduled for Sunday, July 27th.
YN meetings will again resume on Wednesday, September 3rd. Watch your newsletters.....Don and Marilyn.
EDITORS NOTE: In keeping with this year's theme of the "Tale of the Coin", we have an article from member Jim Hill......
A TALE OF MY COIN
by Jim Hill (Member #121)
In 1980, a year after 1 started putting pennies in a box, I went into a coin shop to only look at pennies. I rummaged through the 50 cent Indian Head penny box and found an 1867 Indian cent in good condition. At that time it was worth $14 in the Red book. I then put that penny in my Indian Head Cent Whitman folder. In 1982 I put that penny in a plastic holder made by a German company.
There it stayed until 1998 when I put it in a special cent case, for which I paid $3.95.
I have that coin today and was pleased to find it's worth had increased to $37,50...plus the cost of that special cent case......Jim Hill.
WHY SO FEW PROOF COINS IN 1861?
by Mike Nourse (Life Member #1)
I have probably mentioned in one article or another that I consider the Proof coins of 1861 to be tied with 1858 as the most desirable of the entire 1858 to 1916 classic Proof coin series. The 1858s had the lowest mintage of the series at 100 pieces in each denomination, and currently are the scarcest of all the dates in terms of survivors today. So why aren't the 1858s my runaway favorite date in this series? Quite simply, their scarcity is well known today and these coins trade for a (well deserved) premium price.
Not so for the 1861 coins. When you look at any standard reference book such as the ubiquitous Redbook, the 1858 coins stand out and scream "Rare!" with that 100 mintage figure. A look at the 1861 coins will show a rather uninspiring mintage of 1000 pieces. Don't get me wrong, 1000 pieces is an extremely low mintage! Just look at all the commotion that the Buffalo Dollar generated a few years ago with a mintage of 'only' 500,000 pieces. It's just that the 1861 is surrounded by other dates in the 1860's with mintages in the 500 to 600 pieces range, which appear to be much more desirable coins. Some examples may include the 1863 with a mintage of 460 pieces or the 1864 with a mintage of 470 pieces.
The desirability of the 1861 Proof coinage hinges on two factors. First, out of the 1000 piece mintage for each denomination, over 600 of each went back to the furnaces to be melted in early 1862 because they had not been sold. The other factor is, unlike the 1858, the 1861 coins sell for little if any premium above the other pre-1866 dates. In the case of the quarter, half dollar, and dollar, we can only compare the 1861 coins to other 1866 and earlier coins as the addition of the motto on the reverse of these denominations created a new design type.
Lots of Proof coins from 1861 were melted, but the real question is how many of the various dates from that era survive in collectable condition today. A Look at the NGC and PCGS population reports shows that the 1861 really is the scarcest of all dates from 1858 through 1916, save the more expensive 1858. Numismatic researcher Walter Breen estimates that just over 100 coins remain in existence for each denomination. The population report data seem to support the theory that well under 200 coins exist for each denomination.
If one were interested in building a set of these very desirable Proof coins of 1861, it can be done, though it may take a while to find all the pieces. A set such as this would consist of seven pieces, and will cost a small fortune, though not much if any more than any other 'no motto' Proof set.
Such a set would lead off with an 1861 Indian Head cent, made of copper nickel. This coin is a prize in itself as one of only six dates of Indian cents to be made from that particular alloy. Over those six years only about 4000 pieces were minted, and a goodly portion of those went into the melting pot without being sold. Hence, you have not only a scarce date but also a very scarce type coin.... available at a very reasonable price! The best value comes in the form of a Proof-63 coin which has a retail value in the neighborhood of $1300.
The next piece, though tiny, is a real conversation starter. The 1861 three cent silver piece (or 'trime' or 'fish scale') is an example of the third type for this series, distinguished by x outlines around the star on the obverse and x on the reverse. While about 11,000 Proof three cent silver pieces were minted in total over the years 1851 through 1873, again many were melted, and you just don't see many of these coins around at all in Proof condition. I would not be at all surprised if this ends up being the hardest of the seven coins to locate! The best grade to purchase one of these in is Proof-64 which should retail for around $ 700.
In the case of the half dime and dime, 1861 is year numero two for these denominations in which our country's identity had been moved to the obverse, and the petit wreath on the reverse was replaced by a big bushy wreath consisting of a wide variety of vegetation. We are now into the silver issues, and it should be noted that essentially all original Proof coins from 142 years ago have toned by now. If you want a white specimen, you will have to settle for a coin that has been dipped. Do not be afraid of toning - enjoy it! Toning will make your coin unique among the several dozen survivors, as no two coins will have the same exact toning. Both the half dime and the dime offer the best quality for the price in the grade of Proof-64, which will run about $ 900 for the half dime and $ 850 for the dime.
Moving into the larger silver coins, the quarter, half dollar, and the silver dollar, we are getting into some very desirable coins, with large price tags to go along with that desirability. In 1861, we are still in the 'no motto' era leading up to the addition of the motto 'In God We Trust' on the reverse of these three denominations in 1866. Therefore, being pre-1866 Proof coins adds greatly to their appeal (and price!) as only about 5000 coins of each denomination were struck for the entire type, and a healthy number of those were melted. Due to their high prices, the best bet is probably to shoot for a grade of Proof-63, which will retail for around $ 1225, $925, and $3350 for the three denominations in increasing order.
Time for a quick note about the Proof gold coinage of 1861. Up until 1859, Proof gold coins could be purchased at the mint facility at Philadelphia for face value. Few people took advantage of this bargain though, and all pre-1860 Proof gold is super rare and frightfully expensive. The mint decided to try to start generating a bit of profit in 1860 and 1861 by allowing customers in those years to purchase any Proof gold coin at face value plus a 25 cent charge. There were six gold denominations in production in these years with a face value of $41.50. Adding in the 25 cents per coin gives a total cost of $43 for the full set, equal to about $2000 in today's dollars. 1861 would prove to be the last year that you could buy individual Proof gold coins, as the policy from 1862 -forward was to sell them only in complete sets for $43.
So why are there so few Proof coins in existence from the year 1861? It all comes down to the fact that these coins did not sell well in 1861 and all remaining inventory was melted in early 1862. Of course, a large part of the limited demand can probably be attributed to the beginning of the Civil War that year, but sales were better in the other Civil War years of 1862 through 1865. Possibly more 1861 Proof coinage could have been sold if the coins had been held over for sale in later years, but that did not happen so there is little point in speculating. Besides, any held over coins would likely be in rough condition as the Proofs of that day were simply thrown in a drawer and handled with little care by the Mint cashier. A few months of that kind of handling is bound to create hairlines or worse.
One interesting note about the Proof coins of 1861: they were all struck on April 15th of that year. In most years of that era there would be several strikings of Proof coinage throughout the year, but that was not the case this year. There are not many coins out there in which the exact day of striking can be identified, but this is one of them!... Mike Nourse.
CALIFORNIA FRACTIONAL GOLD BOOK
by Mike Nourse (Life Member #1)
There is a new book that just came out in April 2003 on the subject of California fractional gold coinage. Actually, it is not a new book; it is an updated version of a book that was first printed 20 years ago in 1983. A great deal has been learned about this series of coins since that time, and the authors have done an excellent job of packing this www page book with tons of information.
The original book was entitled "California Pioneer Fractional Gold" and was authored by the duo of Walter Breen and Ronald J. Gillio. It came out 20 years ago, and was intended to replace two older references on the subject, a 1932 book by Ed M. Lee (revised by Kenneth W. Lee in 1970 and 1979) and a 1980 (revised 1982) work by David Doering. This new edition still shows Breen and Gillio as the primary authors, though a lot of the work on this new edition was done by Robert D Leonard with assistance by others. Each California fractional gold coin design has been given an identifying number commonly referred to as its Breen-Gillio or 'BG' number. If you look at an advertisement in a numismatic periodical, there is bound to be at least one advertisement that has some of these tiny coins for sale, and you will therein see BG numbers in action.
This particular book starts out with the standard introduction and forward, which only occupy a few pages before we get into the main section of the book. At this point it is important to know that Walter Breen divided up the California fractional gold series into what are called three periods. Period one consists of coins produced from 1852 through 1857, and these coins are distinguished by the fact that they were generally produced for the actual function as coinage intended for circulation. The period two issues were produced from 1858 through 1882 for purposes of providing souvenirs of the California gold rush or small charms for jewelry as it had become illegal at this time for anybody other than the US government to produce coinage for circulation. The third period coinage has been produced from 1883 to present for sale to collectors, often with the intent to deceive them.
When you see a California fractional gold piece, don't necessarily assume that the date you see is the actual date the coin was minted! There was a good deal of fudging involved where the date was concerned! In the period two era, some of the coins were produced with earlier dates so that they would not appear to be illegal issues produced after private coinage was outlawed. Additionally, the fraudulent intent of many period three issues required a date much earlier than the year in which they were produced.
Knowing that Mr. Breen divided the series up into three periods of production, it will come as no surprise that the book is divided up into three sections. Each section starts out with some background information, but quickly gets into the coins themselves. To help with attributing a particular coin, there are flow charts and tables that will help narrow down your particular coin to a range of BG numbers based on the shape (round or octagonal), denomination, and date. Within the chapter the coins are listed by their manufacturing entity.
The individual listings within each chapter start with a sharp black and white photograph of an actual coin, blown up to about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The images could have been made slightly larger (mostly for aesthetic purposes) but the coin details are readily visible. Below the image is a basic description of the coin, focusing on the details that differentiate this coin from the other BG types. Weights and diameters of tested specimens are listed to help with authentication. A brief history follows which tells the reader who discovered the particular BG type if known, or the first auction appearance found. Die states are listed if there are any known. Lastly, there will be a listing of all known survivors in some cases or a listing of auction appearances in others. Quite typically there are two to four coin types listed per page using a two column format.
This is a fascinating book about some of the real coins of the California gold rush! Obviously, the section of the book dealing with period one will be the most interesting to persons interested in gold rush times as these pieces were actually minted for the purpose of functioning as money. Handling one of these coins in circulated condition forms a real connection with those days of 150 years ago!....Mike Nourse.
It is our club's yearly tradition to have an auction in which our members bid on donation coins, whose proceeds go towards our YN Program. This auction will be held at our membership meeting on June 4th Central Lutheran Church/ 7:30 PM/ downstairs meeting room.
This is the list of donated numismatic items from our club members and numismatic companies that have provided the auction lots.
Thank you again for the support you have given to this program over the years....
Thanks go to all of the people and organizations who donated numismatic materials for this year's YN Donation Numismatic Auction. Among the donators were Greg Samorajski, Jim Hill, Larry Nakata, Fred Weinberg & Co., Pinnacle Rarities, Mike Orr, and The Alaska Mint.
Club Archivist / Photographer
The Anchorage Coin Club is a non-profit organization formed to provide information, education, and a meeting place for individuals having an interest in numismatics.
Correspondence Address: Anchorage Coin Club, P.O. Box 230169, Anchorage,